Fi­nan­cial aid ini­tia­tive gives fam­i­lies a sport­ing chance

HELP ON HAND TO MEET HIGH COST OF PLAY­ING SPORT

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - STREET WATCH -

WE are on a mis­sion to un­cover, recog­nise and re­ward young sport­ing tal­ent from across the dis­trict. Through the Lo­cal Sports Stars pro­gram, Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group is also shin­ing a light on peo­ple and pro­grams that en­cour­age chil­dren to get ac­tive and get in­volved. This week we look at the cost of sport­ing fees and the suc­cess of a pro­gram that is eas­ing money wor­ries and en­abling more chil­dren to join a team. MARK DON­ALD­SON re­ports.

SPORT is of great ben­e­fit to chil­dren, but the as­so­ci­ated costs can be­come a bur­den for par­ents.

Equip­ment, travel and club fees can stack up, par­tic­u­larly with mul­ti­ple kids on board.

But there is a way to ease the pres­sure.

Mil­lions of dol­lars of fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance go to­wards sports costs each year.

These are coun­cil and State Gov­ern­ment funds avail­able to be used by par­ents.

The De­part­ment of Sport and Recre­ation’s KidS­port is the key ini­tia­tive.

Fam­i­lies with a health­care card are el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive up to $200 in vouch­ers per year per child to help with fees, equip­ment and uni­form costs.

Par­ents ap­ply for the grant through their lo­cal coun­cil.

The pro­gram has given out more than $12 mil­lion since its launch in 2011, with Ar­madale Ju­nior Foot­ball Club the biggest ben­e­fi­ciary in terms of sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions. KidS­port has cov­ered nearly 900 fee pay­ments at the Gwynne Park Oval-based club in the past six years.

Ar­madale Ju­nior Foot­ball Club trea­surer Leanne Brown ex­plained how the club did ev­ery­thing it could to help par­ents take ad­van­tage of the ser­vice.

“We have a scan­ner for them to scan their con­ces­sion card, a lap­top and Wi-Fi to do the on­line ap­pli­ca­tion at the clu­b­rooms,” she said.

“The club has ben­e­fited greatly as we would not have the num­ber of reg­is­tered play­ers that we have as some of our par­ents and care­givers are not able to af­ford the fees. It means that the kids don’t miss out on play­ing sport and the par­ents don’t have the fi­nan­cial bur­den of pay­ing fees.”

Split­ting the num­ber of KidS­port grants be­tween coun­cil ar­eas re­vealed City of Wan­neroo res­i­dents took the lion’s share.

City of Wan­neroo par­ents have re­ceived more than 10,500 vouch­ers in the past six years, in­clud­ing 2800 last year.

The City of Swan had the next high­est up­take with al­most 8000.

Fam­i­lies with­out a health­care card can ap­ply for the vouch­ers if they demon­strate fi­nan­cial hard­ship, such as sud­den loss of a job or re­cov­ery from a fire or flood.

As to be ex­pected, the num­ber of res­i­dents who use KidS­port is lower in ar­eas of high in­come, such as the western sub­urbs where Mos­man Park, Ned­lands, Cottes­loe and Pep­per­mint Grove coun­cils com­bined have just 75 ap­pli­cants in the past year.

Out­side KidS­port, many coun­cils of­fer travel grants to play­ers rep­re­sent­ing WA or Aus­tralia.

City of Swan chil­dren and stu­dents aged up to 25 can ac­cess $500 for in­ter­na­tional sports travel or be­tween $100 and $200 for do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion.

“The Swan Cash Do­na­tions pro­gram sup­ports in­di­vid­ual en­deav­our in com­pet­i­tive ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing sport, cul­ture and the arts,” Swan chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Fo­ley said.

“Se­lec­tion must have been through a com­pet­i­tive process and ap­pli­cants must not have re­ceived a cash do­na­tion from the City in the same fi­nan­cial year.”

Swan pro­vided 134 peo­ple with as­sis­tance through this pro­gram last year.

Coun­cils in­clud­ing Wan­neroo, Joon­dalup, Melville, South Perth, Mun­dar­ing, Gos­nells and Man­durah re­ported sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives.

Kids don't miss out on play­ing sport and par­ents don't have the fi­nan­cial bur­den of fees.

Pic­ture: Marie Nirme d467112a

Caleb Blight, Ash­ton Mitchell, Lu­cas Warner, Rilee Hodges and Tal­isha Farmer of Ar­madale Ju­nior Foot­ball Club, which is the biggest ben­e­fi­ciary of KidS­port in WA.

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